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InnoCentive – an Open Innovation Marketplace

June 2, 2010

InnoCentive is a global, online marketplace where organizations, called “Seekers,” post challenges on the firm’s website for a fee. Registered “Solvers” then compete to win cash prizes offered by the “Seekers.” If the problem is solved, InnoCentive earns a finder’s fee. About 60% of the 190,000 registered Solvers currently competing for InnoCentive prizes have a Masters degree or a PhD. More than 40% of registered solvers come from Brazil, Russia, India, and China; 30% from the US; and the remainder from over 150 other countries.

An InnoCentive Challenge is a unique problem posted by Seekers in the InnoCentive Open Innovation Marketplace. The goal of a Challenge is to solicit solutions from the Solver community, and ultimately choose the one that best fits the criteria set out by the Seeker. Challenges can be large or small, short-term or long-term. If a solution is selected as “best” by the Seeker, the Solver receives a financial award, which varies per Challenge.

The idea of ‘crowdsourcing’ simple problems is catching up (see this Analysis article in Cell). On the Challenge Center, about 100 challenges are currently listed in the Chemistry and Physical Sciences categories with award money ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 (half of the challenges are open and the rest in evaluation stages). The most popular challenge with over 1700 participating solvers is the ‘Emergency Response 2.0 : Solutions to Respond to Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico‘. Some examples of the more scientific ones are:  Polymer Grafting, Crystal Growth Detection System and High Refractive Index Resin.

There seem to be potential marketing advantages if AIP can participate. NASA and Nature already secured pavilions. AIP could be a financial sponsor for challenges submitted by members of its extended family of academic scientists.

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